NEW YORK, NY – The Rangers came off of a rough six-game road trip to play a pair of games at The Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers. Monday night’s game was without some key players due to COVID protocol. Wednesday night was played without the coaching staff due to #COVID protocol. One game went poorly for the Blueshirts. And the other went swimmingly.
On Monday, the Broadway Blues were missing their best defenseman, Adam Fox, due to COVID protocol. They were also missing Pavel Buchnevich and Phil DiGiuseppe for the tilt against a struggling Flyers team. But Philly got out of the blocks well and scored two first period goals. The NYers started slowly and struggled to stay out of the penalty box the entire game. But they stormed back to take the lead in the second period. Only to give up that lead twice down the stretch and lose in overtime. It was an ugly game that showed a lack of depth and a lack of discipline.
Wednesday’s game was the complete opposite. The Rangers had Fox back in the fold but were missing Head Coach David Quinn due to COVID protocol. Hartford Wolfpack head coach Kris Knobauch was behind the bench along with former Ranger and Little League World Series champion Chris Drury. It mattered little, as the Rangers scored early and often against the hapless Flyers. A two-goal first period and a seven-goal second period on national television gave Knoblauch his first victory at the helm of the New York Hockey Rangers.
I say first victory because Wednesday’s game will not be a one-off for
Chuck Knoblauch and his assistant Gord Murphy. Word came yesterday that Quinn would miss the weekend set against the Washington Capitals. So we will see whether Wednesday’s 9-0 win with Knoblauch behind the bench was an aberration. It doesn’t look good for Quinn, who has struggled to get the best out of this Rangers team. Mika Zibanejad has had a terrible season. Coming into Wednesday’s game, the star centre (Canadian spelling) only had three goals on the season. He doubled that total with a natural hat trick and six points in the second period against the Flyers.
Goal-tending had also been an issue for the Rangers. With Igor Shesterkin still out with a groin injury, Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev and backup backup Keith Kinkaid have not played well. Going into Wednesday’s tilt, Georgiev had been pulled from two straight games because of poor performances. But Wednesday the Bulgarian net-minder made a number of key saves in the first period before the Rangers exploded in the second period. The fight went out of the Flyers and Georgiev breezed to a much needed shutout win.
Tonight the Rangers take on the Caps in Washington and we will get to see whether Wednesday’s game was just a blip on the radar or whether Knoblauch can keep them playing at the highest level. Zibanejad will look to back up his performance on Wednesday and begin to salvage a lost season for the Swedish centre.
We will see tonight. I’m sure everyone will be tuned into the Rangers tonight. It’s a pretty slow sports day. Not a lot going on.